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OGDEN — Some Ogden city leaders say too many parents are getting violent at their kids' sporting events.
Their solution to prevent fights is to outlaw swearing.
They say they don't intend to have officers patrolling parks for potty mouths, but they would keep an eye on big sporting events like little league games. Critics say, while the focus is on ballparks, the language of the proposed ordinance is way too broad.
It's easy to find examples on YouTube of fights among adults at a kid's game. That kind of behavior is already illegal. Ogden Public Services Director Jay Lowder wants to put dirty language in the same category.
"Heated conversations [are often] being elevated to physical violence," he said.
The whole idea behind the bill came up because too many fights were breaking out at kids softball games. They figured if they could keep from using profane language and getting angry, maybe they could stop those fights from happening.
"That is a big deal to me, because my kids do play baseball and softball," said Ogden mother Rebecca Hill. "When the parents can't keep it under control, and the other people around, it definitely makes a difference. We don't want our children to be around that."
Hill agrees with a proposed ordinance that could get offenders up to 90 days jailtime if they use profane words at city parks. But Ogden attorney Zane Froerer says, while the intent would be to keep games and events safe, the language of the law leaves the door wide open.
They're really regulating speech a little too broadly.
–Ogden attorney Zane Froerer
"They're really regulating speech a little too broadly," Froerer said. "Because the city doesn't have adequate limitations on the circumstances in which this can be used, I think they're gonna have problems."
Froerer also says the law already allow police to intervene if it looks like a conversation is headed toward violence. Lowder, meanwhile, says he has no intention of infringing on first amendment rights.
"We just want to stop it and get the sportsmanship back in our programs so everyone feels comfortable and safe," Lowder said.
Another Ogden city attorney said they need to be more specific in writing the law, and claimed that if it is carefully worded in context, it could be viable. Lowder says the ordinance was modeled on a similar one in West Valley.